What do you live for?
What would you die for?
What would you kill for?
Those are the three questions that I've been asking strangers around the country not long after the event known as "9-11." On that morning, I woke up in my Brooklyn apartment to the sound of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. My husband, dog and I lived just across the Brooklyn Bridge, an easy walk away.
As the sky blackened, I was sure the world had come to an end. And I was acutely aware, for the next days and weeks, that I was breathing the DNA of dead people.
Not long after, my husband and I moved from the apartment we'd lived in for more than a decade, 85 miles north, to the Hudson River Valley. He'd long wanted to move out of the city; I thought I could spend the rest of my life in that same Brooklyn apartment. Until then, I could leave.
One day, those 3 questions came to me, not on golden or stone tablets, but as a sort of aural "vision." I pitched the idea of doing a radio program where I would travel a 30 minute drive or 30 miles away from my new home in slightly upstate New York, asking those short, complex questions. And so began a quest for answers that continues. I've produced radio programs, done live, performance documentaries, and plan to do more. Usually, after I talk with a person, teasing out their answers, I take a sort of mug shot of them, so that I remember what they look like.
On the next pages, you'll hear some of the answers, see photographs of places and people who've been part of the quest, and have a chance to give your answers, too.